Featured Article

Coursera set to roughly double its private valuation in impending IPO

Edtech company could be valued at more than $5B in public debut

Comment

Money floating in space
Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

In a new S-1/A filing, Coursera set an initial IPO price range between $30 and $33 a share, signaling the market views its edtech business warmly ahead of its impending public offering.

Coursera will have 130,271,466 shares outstanding after its IPO, or 132,630,966 including its underwriters’ option. At $30 per share, the low end of the company’s IPO range and a share count inclusive of 2,359,500 shares reserved for its underwriting banks, the firm would be worth $3.98 billion. That number rises to $4.38 billion at $33 per share.

This is a solid increase from Coursera’s last private-market valuation, which was around $2.4 billion when it raised a Series F round in October 2020.

For the bulls in the room, there’s a bigger valuation if you tinker with the numbers. In a fully diluted accounting, including in our calculation, shares that are issuable upon vested options and RSUs, Coursera’s share count rises to 166,006,474, or 168,365,974 if we count its underwriters’ option. At its most generous share count and highest projected price, Coursera’s valuation could reach $5.56 billion.

However, IPO-watching group Renaissance Capital comes to a smaller $5.1 billion figure for a midpoint-range, fully diluted valuation. That result excludes shares reserved for underwriters and equity currently present in vested RSUs.

Using the more modest $5.1 billion midpoint figure, Coursera would be worth around 17.5 times its 2020 revenue of $293.5 million. Using a run-rate figure calculated from the company’s Q4 2020 results, its multiple falls to just over 15x.

Coursera is therefore being valued as a software company, likely a breathe-easy moment for still-private edtech companies, since the debut could be an industry bellwether.

The valuation is also a vote of confidence that Coursera’s rising deficits are not even a valuation risk, let alone an existential threat to its business. In the four quarters of 2020, the edtech giant lost $14.3 million, $13.9 million, $11.9 million and $26.7 million, the final Q4 net loss being the largest among the time interval for which we have data.

From all appearances, investors are valuing Coursera on its growth, not its profitability — or lack thereof.

Helping push its losses higher are rising sales and marketing costs, something TechCrunch has written about in the past. In Q4 2019, for example, the company spent $16.7 million on sales and marketing activities. That figure rose to $35 million in Q4 2020.

A first look at Coursera’s S-1 filing

The company estimates that it would be able to raise between $426.3 million and $495.8 million in capital if underwriters exercise their option to purchase additional shares. These figures are based on a price of $31.50 per share, the average of the two prices that Coursera set forward today.

The company plans to list on the NYSE under the ticker “COUR.”

Edtech, long a portion of the venture capital world that labored in the outskirts, enjoyed a rapid-fire 2020 as the world shifted to remote-learning during the pandemic. Many companies raised new capital at higher prices, demonstrating strong investor interest, but exits have proven less common than up rounds. Coursera’s IPO could shake up that dynamic by proving the value of the sector’s boosted revenues among public investors.

5 takeaways from the Coursera IPO filing

TechCrunch is also comfortable speculating that a strong Coursera debut — pricing and early trading — could lead to a few SPAC-led edtech combinations. If that bears out, it could send more edtech startups into the public markets earlier than most industry watchers might have anticipated a year ago. There are a host of SPACs in the market today looking for deals; perhaps edtech will become a fertile hunting ground for blank-check companies hungry for a deal and a story to spin about strong investor demand for the company that it intends to help list.

Despite the fact that the public markets have shown to be quite receptive to new entrants, Coursera’s confidence could validate sector startups in a way that shows edtech needs more than just SaaS.

Part of Coursera’s pricing fervor might come from Chegg’s performance: The public edtech company is currently trading at $92.60 per share, down from February, but up 60% from the year prior, when it was trading at $36.76. 2U, another public edtech company, is currently having a rougher time in the public markets despite having similar revenue gains to Coursera. The business is trading at $38.22 at a market cap of $2.83 billion.

2U priced its shares at $13 apiece during its 2014 IPO. They rose into the $90 range in 2018 before falling to around $15 per share in mid-2019. Its recent recovery must be welcome among its long-term holders, but the company’s decline from prior highs could be a warning sign, and potential damper, against some enthusiasm for both Coursera’s own debut, and its ability to generate more public edtech deal flow.

For now, the Coursera IPO pricing interval released today appears to be a win for the company as a new valuation mark and a fundraising event. Provided that the company can clear around $500 million on a gross basis in its flotation, it will have more than 30 years of its 2020 operating cash burn on hand to leverage into more positive accounting results.

13 investors say lifelong learning is taking edtech mainstream

More TechCrunch

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future

The European venture capital firm raised its fourth fund as fund as climate tech “comes of age.”

ETF Partners raises €284M for climate startups that will be effective quickly — not 20 years down the road

Copilot, Microsoft’s brand of generative AI, will soon be far more deeply integrated into the Windows 11 experience.

Microsoft wants to make Windows an AI operating system, launches Copilot+ PCs

Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch Space. For those who haven’t heard, the first crewed launch of Boeing’s Starliner capsule has been pushed back yet again to no earlier than…

TechCrunch Space: Star(side)liner

When I attended Automate in Chicago a few weeks back, multiple people thanked me for TechCrunch’s semi-regular robotics job report. It’s always edifying to get that feedback in person. While…

These 81 robotics companies are hiring

The top vehicle safety regulator in the U.S. has launched a formal probe into an April crash involving the all-electric VinFast VF8 SUV that claimed the lives of a family…

VinFast crash that killed family of four now under federal investigation

When putting a video portal in a public park in the middle of New York City, some inappropriate behavior will likely occur. The Portal, the vision of Lithuanian artist and…

NYC-Dublin real-time video portal reopens with some fixes to prevent inappropriate behavior

Longtime New York-based seed investor, Contour Venture Partners, is making progress on its latest flagship fund after lowering its target. The firm closed on $42 million, raised from 64 backers,…

Contour Venture Partners, an early investor in Datadog and Movable Ink, lowers the target for its fifth fund

Meta’s Oversight Board has now extended its scope to include the company’s newest platform, Instagram Threads, and has begun hearing cases from Threads.

Meta’s Oversight Board takes its first Threads case

The company says it’s refocusing and prioritizing fewer initiatives that will have the biggest impact on customers and add value to the business.

SeekOut, a recruiting startup last valued at $1.2 billion, lays off 30% of its workforce

The U.K.’s self-proclaimed “world-leading” regulations for self-driving cars are now official, after the Automated Vehicles (AV) Act received royal assent — the final rubber stamp any legislation must go through…

UK’s autonomous vehicle legislation becomes law, paving the way for first driverless cars by 2026

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s text-generating AI chatbot, has taken the world by storm. What started as a tool to hyper-charge productivity through writing essays and code with short text prompts has evolved…

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about the AI-powered chatbot

SoLo Funds CEO Travis Holoway: “Regulators seem driven by press releases when they should be motivated by true consumer protection and empowering equitable solutions.”

Fintech lender SoLo Funds is being sued again by the government over its lending practices

Hard tech startups generate a lot of buzz, but there’s a growing cohort of companies building digital tools squarely focused on making hard tech development faster, more efficient and —…

Rollup wants to be the hardware engineer’s workhorse

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is not just about groundbreaking innovations, insightful panels, and visionary speakers — it’s also about listening to YOU, the audience, and what you feel is top of…

Disrupt Audience Choice vote closes Friday

Google says the new SDK would help Google expand on its core mission of connecting the right audience to the right content at the right time.

Google is launching a new Android feature to drive users back into their installed apps

Jolla has taken the official wraps off the first version of its personal server-based AI assistant in the making. The reborn startup is building a privacy-focused AI device — aka…

Jolla debuts privacy-focused AI hardware

The ChatGPT mobile app’s net revenue first jumped 22% on the day of the GPT-4o launch and continued to grow in the following days.

ChatGPT’s mobile app revenue saw its biggest spike yet following GPT-4o launch

Dating app maker Bumble has acquired Geneva, an online platform built around forming real-world groups and clubs. The company said that the deal is designed to help it expand its…

Bumble buys community building app Geneva to expand further into friendships

CyberArk — one of the army of larger security companies founded out of Israel — is acquiring Venafi, a specialist in machine identity, for $1.54 billion. 

CyberArk snaps up Venafi for $1.54B to ramp up in machine-to-machine security

Founder-market fit is one of the most crucial factors in a startup’s success, and operators (someone involved in the day-to-day operations of a startup) turned founders have an almost unfair advantage…

OpenseedVC, which backs operators in Africa and Europe starting their companies, reaches first close of $10M fund

A Singapore High Court has effectively approved Pine Labs’ request to shift its operations to India.

Pine Labs gets Singapore court approval to shift base to India

The AI Safety Institute, a U.K. body that aims to assess and address risks in AI platforms, has said it will open a second location in San Francisco. 

UK opens office in San Francisco to tackle AI risk

Companies are always looking for an edge, and searching for ways to encourage their employees to innovate. One way to do that is by running an internal hackathon around a…

Why companies are turning to internal hackathons

Featured Article

I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Women in tech still face a shocking level of mistreatment at work. Melinda French Gates is one of the few working to change that.

2 days ago
I’m rooting for Melinda French Gates to fix tech’s  broken ‘brilliant jerk’ culture

Blue Origin has successfully completed its NS-25 mission, resuming crewed flights for the first time in nearly two years. The mission brought six tourist crew members to the edge of…

Blue Origin successfully launches its first crewed mission since 2022

Creative Artists Agency (CAA), one of the top entertainment and sports talent agencies, is hoping to be at the forefront of AI protection services for celebrities in Hollywood. With many…

Hollywood agency CAA aims to help stars manage their own AI likenesses

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’